Statement by H.E. Mr. Sven Jürgenson, Permanent Representative of Estonia on behalf of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania at the UN Security Council open debate on “Women and peace and security: sexual violence in conflict”, 23 April 2019

Mr. Secretary General, Madam Special Representative, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Allow me to thank Germany for organizing today`s meeting on the issue of sexual violence in conflict.

I am delivering my remarks on behalf of Latvia, Lithuania and my own country Estonia. We are aligning ourselves with the statement of the European Union. We strongly support the resolution adopted today on the elimination and prevention on the conflict-related sexual-violence.

Mr. President,

First of all, we should galvanize our efforts to achieve full gender equality in law and in practice. We need to address the gender stereotypes, deeply embedded in the society and often unconsciously impacting our actions. To counter those stereotypes, women must be able to fully and effectively participate in political, economic and social life. In this context, I would like to commend the initiative of the framework of cooperation between the Special representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict and the CEDAW Committee, signed in 2018.

Secondly, accountability. In our firm opinion, accountability is the most effective means for prevention and only a universal system of accountability for perpetrators of sexual violence would discourage the continued use of these crimes as a weapon of war. In ensuring accountability, we would like to stress the role of the International Criminal Court. The Rome Statute of the ICC provides international community with an excellent tool to put an end to impunity for sexual and gender-based crimes.  We would like to encourage all states that have not yet done it to ratify the Rome Statute and to ensure that their national laws fully incorporate the Rome Statute crimes.

Thirdly, we should address the implementation of existing commitments. We agree with the Secretary General that there are ways to address the existing gaps in the compliance system and to bring these issues into the agenda of the Security Council.

As to the implementation of our commitments, all three countries have taken steps to prepare and advance the National Action Plans on Women, Peace and Security: Latvia will start preparing its first National Action Plan, which will include actions in domestic policy, as well as within multi-lateral and bilateral cooperation. Lithuania is finalizing its second Women, Peace and Security National Action Plan for the period of 2020-2024 and Estonia is currently working already on its third National Action Plan, which focuses on empowerment of women and girls in conflict and post conflict situations as well as raising awareness on conflict related sexual violence.

Estonia is also contributing financially to the activities of the Special Representative of Sexual Violence in Conflict, the Team of Experts on the Rule of Law and Sexual Violence in Conflict and to the work of the ICC Trust Fund for Victims. From the very beginning of its launch, Lithuania has continuously been contributing to the Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund that focuses in directly supporting local women organizations engaged in conflict-affected areas. During its current presidency of the Arms Trade Treaty, Latvia has prioritized the issue of arms related gender-based violence. The ATT is a critical contribution to global efforts in addressing gender-based violence affected by illicit proliferation and the misuse of arms, but it is clear that much more work and political will is needed to address this issue, including through arms export assessments.

Mr. President,

I would also like to stress the crucial role of civil society, in particular women organizations in fighting sexual and gender-based crimes – both in relation to prevention and evidence gathering as well as assistance provided to survivors. In this connection, Lithuania organized a 3-day international experts’ conference last November on the implementation of the women, peace and security agenda with an aim to build capacities and enhance abilities of civil society organizations. Moreover, at the Estonian-organized side event in March during the 63rd session of the CSW the Special Representative of Secretary General, Ms. Pramila Patten gave many interesting examples of the technological opportunities that can be used to help survivors. As stigmatisation almost always comes as part and parcel with the sexual violence, it would be interesting to hear, Madam Special Representative, your recommendations for states on how they can tackle this particular challenge with technological means?

Thank you, Mr. President!